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Orient
by Christopher Bollen


Overview -

As summer draws to a close, a Small Long Island town is plagued by a series of mysterious deaths and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.

Orient is an isolated hamlet on the North Fork of Long Island a quiet, historic village that swells each summer with vacationers, Manhattan escapees, and wealthy young artists from the city with designs on local real estate.  Read more...


 
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More About Orient by Christopher Bollen
 
 
 
Overview

As summer draws to a close, a Small Long Island town is plagued by a series of mysterious deaths and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.

Orient is an isolated hamlet on the North Fork of Long Island a quiet, historic village that swells each summer with vacationers, Manhattan escapees, and wealthy young artists from the city with designs on local real estate. On the last day of summer, a teenage drifter named Mills Chevern arrives in town. Soon after, the village is rocked by a series of unsettling events: the local caretaker is found floating lifeless in the ocean; an elderly neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances; and a monstrous animal corpse is discovered on the beach not far from a research lab often suspected of harboring biological experiments. Before long, other more horrific events plunge the community into a spiral of paranoia.

As the village struggles to make sense of the wave of violence, anxious eyes settle on the mysterious Mills, a troubled orphan with no family, a hazy history, and unknown intentions. But he finds one friend in Beth, an Orient native in retreat from Manhattan, who is determined to unravel the mystery before the small town devours itself.

Suffused with tension, rich with character and a haunting sense of lives suspended against an uncertain future, Orient is both a galvanic thriller and a provocative portrait of the dark side of the American dream: an idyllic community where no one is safe. It marks the emergence of a novelist of enormous talent. "

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062329950
  • ISBN-10: 0062329952
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Publish Date: May 2015
  • Page Count: 624


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Thrillers - Suspense
Books > Fiction > Mystery & Detective - General
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-03-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

An affluent Long Island town is the setting for secret affairs and multiple murders in Bollen’s big and ambitious second novel (after Lightning People). The catalyst for all of these misdeeds is a young “foster-care kid” named Mills Chevern, who finds a surrogate mother in Beth Shepherd, lifelong resident and failed artist. When local handyman Jeff Trader washes up on shore with a rope around his neck, foul play is suspected. Adding fuel to the fire is a big creepy creature, resembling a whale but black and disfigured so as to be unrecognizable, found on a beach. Locals connect these events to suspected nefarious doings by the Orient Historical Board and a nearby chemical plant. Wealthy dowager Magdalena convinces Beth to check out Jeff’s place for evidence of murder; when she visits the old woman to report what she’s found, she learns that Magdalena is dead. Beth begins investigating in earnest, with Mills as her wingman. Bollen is at his best when incisively depicting the self-delusions and prejudices of this remote community. Though packed with plot, this expansive novel falls a bit flat when all’s said and done. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (May)

 
BookPage Reviews

Submerged secrets

In his second novel, Christopher Bollen brings a fresh perspective to the tale of a small town that hides secrets beneath its sleepy facade. With Orient, Bollen takes a real place—the North Fork of Long Island—and weaves a mesmerizing fictional web of characters and mysteries into a story that is as viscerally thrilling as it is intellectually precise. 

Orient is an isolated, quiet New York town, almost an island unto itself, but its peaceful facade is threatened by a cultural clash between the “year-rounders” who’ve called the place home forever and the wealthy newcomers who consider the town a refuge from the chaos of Manhattan. Even in its more peaceful moments, Bollen makes the place feel a bit like an idyllic powder keg waiting to burst into a firestorm. Things get more complicated when the body of a local caretaker is found floating in the water, followed shortly by the body of a creature that all the locals think might be from a research lab in the area. Rumors swell in the town, and many are centered on Mills Chevern, an orphan with a murky past who just arrived in Orient. More deaths follow, the town gets more fearful, and Mills ultimately joins a Manhattan transplant named Beth—who has problems of her own—in an effort to find out what’s really going on.

A sense of dread, of creeping disaster, builds in Orient from the very first page, and even though it takes a while for the first body to show up, Bollen has a knack for building tension through character, pacing and a sure sense of place. If you’re just looking for a great murder mystery, Orient has it, but there’s so much more to savor. Through this prism of a doomed American town, Bollen examines everything from class to parenthood to sexuality to privacy, and it’s all embedded within a central plot so intoxicating that you can’t help but linger on every moment searching for meaning. That Orient achieves this is enough to make it a page-turner. That the meaning you find often deepens as it dawns on you makes it a must-read novel.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews